July 21, 2016 | By: Brittney Kohler

The Orange County Branch of the American Society of Civil Engineers today released its 2016 Orange County Infrastructure Report Card, grading 12 categories of the county’s infrastructure, resulting in an overall grade point average of “C+.” The Report Card was developed in collaboration with the UC Irvine Civil and Environmental Engineering Affiliates, an advisory group to the UCI Samueli School’s Civil and Environmental Engineering Department.

A team of professional engineers from Orange County assessed the 12 categories, including Aviation (A-), Electric Power (C-), Flood Control & Levees (C-), Ground Transportation (C), Natural Gas (B-), Oil (B-), Parks, Recreation & Environment (C+), School Facilities (C), Solid Waste (B), Surface Water Quality (D+), Wastewater (B), and Water Supply (B). This is the fourth Orange County Infrastructure Report Card. The first, released in 2002, gave the county’s infrastructure a GPA of “C;” in subsequent releases in 2005 and 2010, the GPA has stayed constant at a “C+.”

“In this first assessment of Orange County’s infrastructure since the 2008 recession, we found that while some areas have improved incrementally, others have declined, leaving our overall GPA stalled for more than a decade,” said Yaz Emrani, P.E., OC Infrastructure Report Card Chair. “Since our infrastructure works as a system, it’s important that Orange County increase investment so that we can move our infrastructure from ‘catching up’ to ‘ready for the future.’”

The 2016 Orange County Infrastructure Report Card finds that much of the county’s infrastructure needs additional investment to keep up with demand. Of note:

  • While commercial traffic at John Wayne Airport approaches the current negotiated passenger limit of 10.8 million annual passengers until 2020, both general aviation and military demand fall short of meeting Orange County’s available capacity.
  • Funding shortfalls for needed upgrades to bring regional flood control facilities in the county to its standards continue to be in excess of $2.7 billion.
  • Deferred maintenance during the recent recession has exacerbated ground transportation needs. The existing funding sources are inadequate to meet the current and future demand, and it is estimated Orange County needs an additional $133 million annually.
  • The condition of school facilities has declined in the past five years due to lack of funding.
  • Due to increased volume of stormwater runoff during storm events, existing surface water quality infrastructure in Orange County does not have nearly the capacity to meet wet weather demands.

Given these infrastructure challenges, the Orange County Branch of the American Society of Civil Engineers urges a number of recommendations to raise the grades, including:

  • Performing continuous and timely maintenance on the infrastructure to prolong use and minimize the need for costly repairs.
  • Conducting comprehensive planning and long-term investment to ensure sound decisions about infrastructure.
  • Preserving the environment while fostering economic growth and personal mobility.

To view the full Orange County report, visit www.ASCECAReportCard.org.

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